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Cyclist severely injured after being hit at Galloping Goose trail crossing

A Colwood dentist who survived breast cancer and whose young son died of a drug overdose will spend Christmas in hospital after she was hit at a marked crossing while on a bicycle. Dr.
Dr. Rachel Staples is in hospital after being struck by a vehicle on Wale Road in Colwood on Dec. 4, on the way to her dental practice. COURTESY RACHEL STAPLES

A Colwood dentist who survived breast cancer and whose young son died of a drug overdose will spend Christmas in hospital after she was hit at a marked crossing while on a bicycle.

Dr. Rachel Staples, from her hospital bed in Victoria General Hospital, is telling others to “slow down” this holiday season and take seriously the impact of COVID-19 on our hospitals and its patients.

“We go about our lives and we just spin a lot of the times and we’re not thinking about the impact of our actions and sometimes it really just takes a second for a bad thing to happen,” said Staples.

“I think people need to slow down, life is short, and I’m sure the person who hit me is also quite devastated.”

At about 7:25 a.m. on Dec. 4, Staples, an experienced cyclist in full safety gear including reflective helmet and clothing, was hit by a motor vehicle at a marked crossing designated for bicycles.

She rode from Oak Bay on her electric bike along the region’s trails – “it was a really beautiful morning.”

She was hit by a vehicle in the second half of a marked crossing over two-lane Wale Road, after checking for traffic.

Her next memory was emergency personnel by her side as she lay on the ground. One of her lungs was perforated by one of her fractured ribs. She also suffered a concussion, broken nose, facial lacerations, broken shoulder, and shattered knee caps.

The excruciating pain caused her to think, mistakenly, her back was broken.

“I was really scared, I was scared not for me but for my family,” said Staples. “You kind of think about your family when you are faced with something like that, what will happen to them, and my business too, and my team.”

The crosswalk has so-called “elephant feet” markings on each side indicating that a cyclist can legally ride through the intersection.

The driver was charged with “drive without consideration,” said West Shore RCMP spokeswoman Const. Nancy Saggar.

“I was literally 400 metres from my new office,” said Staples. “I was basically crunched.”

Ten days after the crash, her facial wounds appear to be healing, and with the assistance of three people she can get into her wheelchair. She faces many more weeks in hospital and months of rehabilitation.

In June last year, Staples was in another wheelchair while undergoing reconstructive surgery after a double mastectomy.

She appeared daily at a coroner’s inquest into the death of her 16-year-old son, Elliot Eurchuk, from an accidental drug overdose involving fentanyl, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.

The examination of several failures and gaps in ministries from health to education resulted in several recommendations, including a call for more drug-addiction treatment beds.

Staples said being back in hospital, where her family experienced some of those gaps and failures, is hard, especially amid pandemic restrictions.

“It’s isolating,” she said.

“The nurses — as amazing as they are — they are not your family and they do their best to keep you comfortable, but they are busy on this floor.”

Elderly patients with hip fractures are on their own. Staples said an Italian woman, who doesn’t speak English, was crying all night because she doesn’t have anybody.

“It’s heartbreaking,” said Staples, whose husband Brock Eurchuk was allowed access.

On Dec. 4, Eurchuk asked Staples to take his vehicle to work, or let him drive her. She chose his electric bike, and he was up at 4:30 a.m. to have it ready for her. A few hours later, he was called to the emergency department at the hospital.

He said he was in “rescue mode” at first, but the days that followed were flooded with memories of the frustrations and heartache he experienced when his son was in hospital.

Staples said the family has no choice but to be strong, but they are healing from more than broken bones.

“Cycling is not going away in Victoria,” said Staples. “I love going through these trails and just being out in nature. But, you know, people have to respect one another on the roads.”

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